Hawaii News Now continues to track redevelopment progress at the troubled Aloha Tower Marketplace. A majority of the center has been vacant for months now - with the latest defection coming at the end of the month from longtime restaurant, Chai's Island Bistro.
We wondered how redevelopment plans are going for the iconic area. Hawaii Pacific University wants to expand its downtown campus and says it's "on track" with economic and educational plans to boost the underperforming waterfront mall with a $32 million facelift.
"There are, I think, some fairly routine matters that need to be worked out with regard to management and development," says Todd Simmons, HPU's Vice-President of Marketing and Communications.
While zoning changes have been approved, a financial hurdle still needs to be cleared. In order to receive up to $120 million in tax-free bonds from the state, HPU is required to be sole owner of the project. Right now, it holds an 80% interest. San Diego developer, Ed Bushor - who designed the redevelopment plan - owns the rest. If a deal can be inked to buy Bushor's minority interest - and approved by the Aloha Tower Development Corporation - HPU could take over.
Simmons says, "There's so much promise there, so in the face of that, we think there's very little that can't be worked out."
The marketplace is said to be at least 70% vacant, overall, but some trendy mainland establishments, including a couple of restaurants and a bowling alley, are reportedly lined up to move in.
The plan calls for retail and restaurants below, and dorm space above. The former Maritime Center at Pier 7 would become an HPU faculty and alumni center, and Pier 10 would house a sports and entertainment complex. The university and its agents would oversee property management.
"I think HPU's a great idea," says Bill Wyland. He's the brother of the famous artist and says he's so optimistic about redevelopment plans that he just officially opened a new art gallery at ATM two weeks ago. "That's why I'm looking forward to seeing what happens because, myself, I want to know where I'm going for the future."
Wyland knows a thing or two about the marketplace. He owned another gallery at ATM when it first launched in 1994. That gallery closed as business at the mall dropped. He'll be watching redevelopment plans closely.
HPU and the Aloha Tower Development Corp. plan to meet again in mid-December to further discuss the project.